Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let's Deal with Distractions---ADHD Strategies for Home & School

It's almost time to turn another calendar page. August is nearly here, and with it will come the annual back-to-school specials, no-sales-tax holidays, last-minute family vacations and other events that sadly signal the end of summer. Are you ready for all of this activity?

More importantly, is your child ready to think about the coming school year---are YOU? If your daughter loves reading and learning, you and she are probably looking forward to the first week of school. If your son very much enjoys science and math, the thought of school is most likely a pleasant and exciting one for him. However, if your child or teen is a reluctant reader or learner, the school year and its academic expectations may not be on his list of favorite things. Add to that the challenges of ADHD, and you may have a student who definitely does not like the idea of returning to school for the new term.

What's a parent to do, especially when ADHD or other issues will need to be addressed? Well, we are all about preparation---good preparation. While others may be still seeking more fun in the sun or picnics in the park, you and your child can be prepping for a great school year.

What will you need to help your child with ADHD be well-prepared for this school year? Providing you with some excellent focusing tips for ADHD would certainly be a great place to start. That's why we have created the following list of tips to help your child focus, get"in gear," as well as be ready to read and study. We hope you will find at least 1 or 2 tips here that are new and motivating for your child.

Focusing Tips for Children with ADHD

ADHD Strategies for Home

1. With your child, create a color-coded system to help organize his papers. For example, all science papers might be placed in a green folder and all reading papers put in a purple one.

2. Label files and folders using general subject headings. By using "Science" instead of "Chemistry," your child can get more than a year of use from one filing system.

3. Encourage your child to write the date at the top of each assignment to promote much easier, chronological organization at test time.

4. With your child, create checklists to ensure that assignments are always completed on time. When each project is finished, just cross it off the list! This will give your child a genuine sense of accomplishment and provide motivation to keep moving forward.

5. At the beginning of the school year, make copies of your child's important papers, including schedules and permission slips, and post them somewhere very visible in the house. These visual reminders will keep the information top of mind for your child. Remember---"Out of sight, out of mind."

6. Begin maintaining a daily routine now as the summer winds down. Create a workable yet structured schedule to give your child a time frame in which each chore or task should be completed. Developing a routine doesn't have to be limited to just homework. It can also help limit distractions when children do chores, get ready each morning or participate in other day-to-day activities.

7. Noise (or not) can make a difference. Discover if your child works better in complete silence or with some background sound(s). If normal household or neighborhood noises are too distracting, your child might need a separate workspace away from this noise or a set of noise-reducing headphones in order to work. However, if background noise helps, the kitchen table or a set of headphones streaming (wordless or instrumental) music may help your child get assignments finished.

8. Allow your child to take small breaks between assignments or tasks. Walking around for a few minutes and including a drink of water or other appropriate beverage can go a long way in helping develop a better workflow. Short breaks can also give a child something positive to anticipate, which can in turn help motivate the completion of a task. Also, breaking big assignments down into smaller chunks or tasks can make almost any project much less overwhelming and far more manageable.

9. Keep it clean and neat! Clutter in your child's workspace can be a huge distraction. So, in order to keep your child focused on her assignments, encourage the workstation to be clutter-free and organized.

ADHD Strategies for School

1. A front-row seat can be most helpful. Talk with your child's teacher and politely request a seat for your child near the front of the classroom, if possible. Should your child's teacher allow free seating, it would be a good idea to encourage sitting up front on the first day of class. Having a desk close to the teacher will make it easier to be more attentive during lessons AND minimize distractions.

2. Write down ideas and thoughts. Suggest to your child that he write down distracting thoughts instead of blurting them out. This practice will help prevent disruptions in the class or during lessons.

3. Learning styles DO matter. Work with your child’s teacher to identify strategies that work best for the type of learner your child is. Whether he learns best by watching, listening or actively doing, finding methods that are in line with your child’s learning style can help to make lessons much easier to understand and improve focus.

4. Also consider asking your child's teacher if he may use reading tools in the classroom to help increase focus, concentration and retention of what is learned. Most teachers will be grateful for such a request. It might be a good idea to have a duplicate set of these tools for your child to use at home, too. Special note: In some states, if these same focusing tools are included in the accommodations of a student's IEP AND utilized in the classroom by the student during the academic year of that IEP, they can also be used when taking the state achievement test. Check with your school's administrators to confirm or learn more about this.

5. Sincere encouragement is always a good thing. Even though your child may try her best, at times she may feel discouraged (i.e. right before a major test, by receiving a surprising low grade, etc.) It’s important to remind your child of previous examples when she did do well, reassuring her that you know she can again succeed.

Secondly, we think that having the right resources to support you and your child in this good preparation for the school year could make all the difference in the world for both of you! To address this important need, we have collected quite a few resources to promote more focus and concentration both at home and at school. Consider taking a look at these resources now to see which ones might give you the support you need to help your student focus with more success.

Focusing Resources for Children with ADHD

1. They Do the Rest
Excellent articles and FREE downloadable tools to help parents and children get better organized and ready for school and home life(tools include school supply lists, family chore lists, parent/teacher conference question lists, etc.)
Tool List for Children:
Tool List for Teens:

2. ADD/ADHD and School from
Helping Children with ADHD Succeed at School

3. 6 tips to coach your kids with ADD/ADHD by Elaine Taylor-Klaus, special to HLN
Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD, an organization that educates and supports parents raising kids with ADD/ADHD by providing weekly coaching tips and strategies. She is also the co-author of the e-book, ADHD in Reality: Tips for Parents from Parents.

4. When ADHD Kids Fidget: Better Focus Through Multitasking by by Roland Rotz, Ph.D., Sarah D. Wright & ADDitude Magazine
ADHD children may actually concentrate, focus and stay on-task better with a little foot-tapping, gum-chewing or fidgeting.

5. Reading Focus Cards | Focus on Reading and Learning by North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP)--posted July 23, 2014
Article about customizable reading aids available for children, teens and adults of all ages

6. Reading Focus Cards Desktop App (Patent 8,360,779)
This DESKTOP app is the digital version of the low-tech, physical Reading Focus Cards tools (Patent 7,565,759), solutions for struggling readers. This app provides very practical support for children and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that can affect reading success. It promotes more FOCUSED online reading of almost ALL digital media (webpages, PDF files, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets & more.) In addition, the app supports touch-screen technology (where applicable).
1. For Macs (desktops & notebooks):
Visit the Mac App Store and search for Reading Focus Cards or go directly to
2. For Windows PCs (desktops & laptops):
Visit Gumroad at OR visit the Microsoft Windows Store and search for the app called Reading Focus Cards. (No URLs are ever provided for apps in the Windows Store.)


Dealing with Distractions — Strategies for Home and School from They Do the Rest

Tips to Keep Your Child Organized at Home from They Do the Rest

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

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